Houseboat Flooring Choices - are laminate floors a good DIY idea?

by Rodney and Pam
(Louisville, KY)

Houseboat Flooring - are laminate floors a good DIY project idea?

Houseboat Flooring - are laminate floors a good DIY project idea?

So many houseboat flooring choices, but are laminate floors a good idea in house boats? My wife and I bought our first houseboat last season, and we put it on the Ohio river here in Louisville KY.

It is a 1977, 42 ft Carl Craft houseboat with twin engines, and we love it. It is a little bit of a fixer upper, and yes we did the leaky roof thing ourselves to. We have put some pontoon furniture up on the top deck.

However this season, we're wanting to take out the carpet, and put in some laminate flooring. We found a good deal on some from a man that bought it, and than decided he did not like it.

So we are getting it for .55 cents a sq ft., but my question is, has anyone else tried this and how did it work for them?

We have cold winters and hot summers here. I know it will not last forever, but we just want it to last and look good for a few years.

I also have some pics of the roof being redone done by me, if anyone would like to see them.

Thanks and enjoy the waters safely, Rodney and Pam.

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Reply - Answer
Well Rodney and Pam, welcome to the houseboat forums, and congratulations on your recent houseboat purchase.

I am sure that once you finished the roof top deck repairs, it was a pleasure to throw some pontoon furniture up there and enjoy the space and scenery :)

Now as you're looking for more projects, as my wife also would like to remodel the floors, we also contemplated using the laminate flooring. I have only seen and heard good comments when it comes to laying down the new laminates instead of the traditional carpet flooring (hard to keep clean).

One of our houseboats had the "6 inch square" wood parquet floors installed by the previous owners, and that didn't perform well. Mind you, one night we went to bed and forgot the window open, and the heavy rain fall entered, and caused the wood tiles to lift :(

There is plenty of houseboat owners that have remodeled or changed their flooring, and I am sure that you'll receive comments and replies regarding the durability, performance, and maybe some installation tips thrown in :)

As far as I know, with todays new floating laminate floors, the durability and quality shouldn't be an issue. And once you clear out the area, and prepare the floor, installation is pretty well a DIY project, which helps out in the bank account department.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their houseboat laminate flooring experiences and installations. Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found near the bottom of this page.

Thanks again for sharing, IAN from all-about-houseboats

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Comments for Houseboat Flooring Choices - are laminate floors a good DIY idea?

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More on plastics
by: Anonymous

Hey Geoff, fires can start and quickly progress. Often they begin slow and the carbon monoxide would have rendered most people on the boat unconscious. I am not a believer at all in plastics.

Resilient flooring
by: Jill on Norris Lake TN

My neighbor just installed resilient flooring made by Shaw Industries and it is gorgeous. 100% waterproof. This is my next project for our boat.

Fire hazard
by: Geoff Smith

John Wilder, I think the reason most people or at least myself do not see merit in the toxic fume issue is that if a fire has progressed that far, who the hell is still on the boat.

I fully agree there is an issue with it burning as there is with the couch foam and curtains etc... The number of house boat fires is rare at least to the point the floors are burning.

Just a thought.

Painted Floor?
by: Linda

I have purchased a 1984 Harbor Master 37ft Houseboat, and it has (my Hidey!!!) the sleeping quarters under the helm (right?). The people before us kept 7 little chi-wa-wa's on the boat with them.....yeee-up! It's a MESS!!!

We got the galley and the helm pretty good, but the floors will need to be replaced. Had a rug in the helm, and that came up easy BIG ISSUE is with the carpet down in my Hidey! It's horrendous.

Why people insist on carpet in a boat, I don't know.... this just reinforces my hatred of carpeting.....throw rugs- great, room-size rug- awesome!!!! Wall to wall or actually attached to the floor- WTFrig!?!?!?!?!?

Like carpet in the bathroom, yes get out of the shower and the carpet gets all wet.....or worse!!! Anyway, under my horrendous carpeting is the fiberglass floor or hull. It seems to be untreated (so, like, glass is getting everywhere unless/until that's covered back up, right?)-

My question is, I want to pull up all that nasty stuff and paint the floor. Ever hear of anyone doing this? This area will be pretty much mine- all of it. I plan on doing some things, but this floor....I HAVE to get something done about the floor.

Since this is what looks like marine or maybe just outdoor carpeting.... What type of paint? Is it OK NOT to put the 'grippy-stuff' in the paint? Can I have my floor smooth and painted, or do I have to put something else on top of the fiberglass?

I will chose another flooring type if I have to, but there will be not one lick of carpeting in this boat, ever again or at least as long as I own it. (We like to fish... fishing is a dirty hobby/life).

This carpet I have has had the mess- ye-up, pretty sure the dogs never left the boat....yep.....NASTY!!!!)

Houseboat flooring options?
by: Houseboat newbie

Any idea how bamboo or teak wood might fare on a houseboat's floor?

Laminate is waterproof
by: Geoff Smith

While true that some cheap laminates will be affected by water most decent stuff will not. Since you are getting it from someone check out the brand he bought.

Hardwood is affected by humidity the most, engineered flooring less so but still expands and contracts with humidity and temperature while laminate is the most stable.

I did an install for a customer in a small home and did the cutting outside. She said she would clean up the cut ends. Well she never got around to it until the following May. These cut pieces sat outside, in rain and snow and some where in puddles and not one piece was affected.

I was truly floored LOL.

Go with laminate but not cheap stuff.


by: Dave

I just put down a engineered hard wood. It looks great.

It can be a little slippery when wet. More water friendly, as some one else mentioned, it will not swell and warp as much as a laminate. Glued it down, very easy to install.

Go to a place like Lumber Liquidators and find a closeout you like. The price will be right also.

Traffic Master
by: Slawdog

Hope Depot carries Traffic Master Pisos Resistentes flooring.

We put it through out our 16'X60' Lazy Days last year, it's awesome and extremely easy to work with.

Laminate Flooring Choices
by: Anonymous

There are some vinyl flooring strips available at local do-it-yourself stores that look like wood, but have no wood at all in them, so they tend not to swell or lift when they get wet.

Take a look at these alternatives, as a few of my friends have used them on their houseboats, and they are pleased with the results.

Check into vinyl plank
by: Tim J

Instead of laminate, we did a vinyl plank floor.

First off cutting with a Sheetrock knife was ideal, it laid down very nice, and should be way more water friendly.

Only time will tell, but it seems like a great alternative.

Flooring on the house boat
by: Maureen

We are also trying to decide what flooring to put on the houseboat. Our houseboat is a place to relax and have fun and there is no way that I would expect my grandchildren not to drip.

They are people too and can not really have fun if they are being nagged about water, mess and spills. It's a boat for god's sake, you are supposed to get wet. Waves wash up and over the deck and sometimes go down the stairs.

If you want to keep dry, you should stay off the water. I think maybe cork flooring would work for a boat that is not going to get a lot of housekeeping.

I would appreciate any advice.


No to laminate
by: John Wilder

As an award winning contractor, let me speak against laminate flooring. DON'T DO IT.

If there is a fire, this stuff will burn like gasoline and kill your family with the toxic fumes from the burning plastic.

For not much more money, you can put down hardwood engineered floors that are glued down and won't swell.

Wood next to plasitc exposes plastic for the cheap fraud that it is. The engineered wood has a wear warante of 50 years or better, a better warranty than you can get with that cheap
plastic crap.

Plus, plastic is a non renewable resource where wood is a natural product and infinitely renewable.

I can't think of a single reason to
install laminate other than it is cheap. Your houseboat is a prized possesion, have some pride in what you install in it.

Laminate flooring in houseboats
by: Mary

We are in the same situation, teetering between carpet and laminate in our 1988 16x68 houseboat. We would definitely go with a good grade which ever we choose.

My husband points out that the carpet would be warmer and adds we cannot always be there when the grandkids are dripping wet coming and going etc…

I do hate the idea of vacuuming so much, but the berber we had in our last boat was awesome. Any more thoughts....

Laminate flooring in humid or wet locations
by: Anonymous

Do not use Laminate flooring in any place there may be water, even the best of it will swell eventually if exposed to moisture. Over time just the humidity in the air will cause the edges to swell.

There are several brands of floating floor made out of the same material commercial floors are made out of. There are wood colors and patterns that are just as good looking or better and are 100% water proof. Some even have a lifetime residential warranty. They cost about the same as laminate.

I put laminate flooring down in my house and have been disappointed to say the least. I have this new product down in my office and it is everything laminate is not. It is called resilient vinyl planks.


Houseboat Repairs - leaky roof
by: rodney and pam

If you still like to see the pictures, I will get them on here for you.

Rodney and Pam.

Rodney and Pam- leaky roof pictures.
by: Cindy

Hi Rodney and Pam we are on the Ohio river also in East Liverpool Ohio. My husband and I own a 36' Gibson houseboat that is in need of maintenance of the fly bridge.

We too have some leaky areas after heavy rain, and are not sure how to proceed our deck is solid. We think we need to just seal the fiberglass, remove hand rails caulk and replace.

Some houseboaters in our area are suggesting we just find and fix the leak, but I think the deck should be maintained and sealed on a regular basis. I would love to see your pictures and hear about the process of fixing your leaky roof.

We also need to replace carpet and now may consider laminate flooring. Thank you in advance for any advice you can give. Cindy

Laminate Floor Underlay - how to attach it?
by: Ohthejoy!

Do you use the regular underlay and how do you attach it to hatches in the floor , Glue?

Boat Flooring - floating laminate in houseboats
by: Barb

We too went with the floating laminate in the salon, galley and head of our houseboat and not only does it look rich and wonderful, the ease of care is amazing.

We belong to a boat club that owns a private island in the Mississippi and we often "beach" the boat for the weekend. It is much easier to sweep laminate then vaccumn carpets. The only places we are using carpet is in the staterooms.

Houseboat Floors - check out cork flooring
by: Anonymous

For houseboat floor coverings, check out cork floating floor. It is slip resistant, sound deading, bugs do not like it, and it is green renewable.

Make sure you let it float per manufacturer specifications, and do not forget to leave clearance at the end as it will hump up.
A nice bonus is that it is real nice on bare feet :)

Not water proof
by: Anonymous

I have this all over my house and love it for care and maintenance but it is not water proof, it will swell up and need to be replaced. It may be a good idea to buy some overage and keep handy in case you need to replace some in the future. Otherwise, I would think it would do quite well.

Flooring in our houseboat
by: Rodney and Pam

From all we seen and heard from other boaters, I think we are going on with the flooring. We like the look, and it has to be better than the carpet.

It will be a few more weeks before we start on it, so any more info would greatly thankful.

When we get this done I can put some before and after pictures up, and the readers will be able to grade my work :)

Thanks again, Rodney and Pam

Choose good quality of laminate flooring
by: Anonymous

Just a note on laminate flooring, get the good stuff. I think the one using a plywood base would be best. Had the cheap kind in our RV, and it was swelled up when we bought it new.

You can tell it because from the back it looks like ground up cardboard glued together with a thin vinyl film on the front.

Good luck, Larry

Reply - Answer
Larry, thanks for the tip and how to tell if it's the good stuff.

IAN from

Laminate flooring is a great idea
by: Anonymous

Welcome Pam & Rodney, I have had laminate flooring in my houseboat for about 4 years without any issues. However, I do not allow our kids to "drip" on it after swimming just in case. If something spills we quickly wipe it up.

I installed it throughout the houseboat including the bathroom and it works great and easy to clean. It is a very simple D-I-Y project.

Good Luck, Jason

Miss Sandi
Belle River, LA

Vinyl gives off toxic fumes
by: John Wilder

Laminate floors are made of plastic as is vinyl planks. People it will burn like gasoline and kill your family from the very toxic fumes it gives off when it burns.

You people are ignoring this safety warning like it does not matter. Is it really worth the risk to your family save a few bucks?

John Wilder.

Laminate floors
by: Mike

I have been converted to laminate floors for nearly a decade. I do not use real wood laminate as it may distort (wood is very hygroscopic).

I have used the cheaper substitute which is essentially compressed fibre. It locks together but you must remember that it must have an underlay of some sort, and it must be allowed to 'float', ie., it must not be pinned at the edges.

If you put a heavy item of furniture on it, make sure that the floor can move radially from the heavy item.

I will never use an alternative flooring after 10 years of successful use. My only real caveat is if you need to put a hatch in the floor to access the bilges. My carpentry kills do not stretch that far!

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